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Task force set to examine state’s domestic relations laws

Mississippi legislature
The top of the Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson (Photo by SuperTalk Mississippi News)

Acting under guidance from the Legislature, a newly formed task force will meet to examine Mississippi’s domestic relations laws. 

The passage of SB 2621 during the 2021 session created the task force, which will be comprised of judges, attorneys, child advocates, and law professors. Starting July 1, the members will study the state’s current laws as well as models used by other states for child support, child care, and support expenses and will analyze current trends of law regarding no-fault divorce, child support payments past the age of majority for disabled children, and costs for guardians ad litem who represent the best interests of children.

With their findings, the task force will then deliver recommendations to the Legislature and the Mississippi Supreme Court for the purpose of revising Mississippi’s domestic relations laws and rules of court. These recommendations will be made on or before December 1st. 

The 15-member Task Force includes:

  • Senate Judiciary A Chairman Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula and House Judicial A Chairman Angela Cockerham of Magnolia;
  • Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Griffis of Ridgeland, Chancellor Troy Odom of Brandon and Chancellor Jennifer Schloegel of Gulfport, appointed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph;
  • Court of Appeals Judge David Neil McCarty of Jackson, appointed by Court of Appeals Chief Judge Donna Barnes;
  • Attorneys Mark A. Chinn of Jackson, Donna S. Smith of Columbus,  A. Regnal Blackledge of Collins and Diandra Hosey of Jackson, appointed by the Mississippi Bar;
  • Attorney guardians ad litem  Melissa B. DiFatta of Pascagoula and Lee Ann Turner of Starkville, appointed by the Mississippi Bar;
  • Division of Child Support Enforcement Senior Attorney J. Michael McCauley of Bay St. Louis, appointed by Mississippi Department of Human Services Executive Director Robert G. Anderson;
  • Professor Deborah Bell of Oxford, Senior Faculty in Service  at the University of Mississippi School of Law,  appointed by Dean Susan Duncan;
  • Professor Shirley Kennedy of Jackson, Director of the Family and Children’s Law Center and Director of Child Advocacy Programs at Mississippi College School of Law,  appointed by Dean Patricia Bennett.

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